Frankly, it’s absolutely fitting that the Carolina Panthers are hosting the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night in the NFL this week as the NFC South Division rivals each lost on Sunday in devastating fashion to see their playoff chances get that much more unlikely. The loser Thursday can probably forget about postseason football. The Panthers are slight favourites on Sports Interaction’s NFL odds.
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
Point spread: Panthers -3
Date: Thursday, Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
New Orleans Saints
The Saints (4-5) stole defeat from the jaws of victory against visiting Denver on Sunday, losing in a fashion rarely seen. The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos trailed 17-10 entering the fourth quarter but scored three straight times to lead 23-17. However, Drew Brees hit Brandin Cooks on a fantastic pass and catch with 1:22 to go to tie the game at 23. All the Saints had to do was convert the PAT to likely win the game.
The NFL moved the PAT back to make it a 33-yard kick because they were becoming such automatic points. When the NFL did so, it allowed the team being kicked against to potentially return a missed/blocked kick for 2 points. That’s what the Broncos did, as Denver’s Justin Simmons leaped over the New Orleans center — without touching him as that would have been a penalty — and blocked the PAT. Teammate Will Parks ran it back 84 yards for the 2 points. It did look like Parks stepped out of bounds on his way down the sideline, but the play was somehow held up on review. It was the first time an NFL game was won in that regard; after the Saints were unable to recover an onside kick.
The loss ruined another big day from Brees, who continues to play at a Pro Bowl level at age 37. He threw for 303 yards and three scores but was picked off twice. Brees became the third member of the 450-touchdown career passing club, joining Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508). But really, these Saints are what they have always have been with Brees: a great passing team that can’t do much defensively.
New Orleans is 6-3 against the spread this season and 4-0 ATS on the road.
Four teams in NFL history have made the playoffs after starting 3-6 and that’s what is staring the defending NFC champion Panthers in the face after their gut-wrenching home loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Carolina led 17-0 late in the second quarter but allowed a 47-yard field goal by the Chiefs’ Cairo Santos right before the half that seemed to change momentum.
Kansas City would eventually tie the game at 17 on a Santos 33-yard kick with 4:25 go to. Fast forward to 29 seconds remaining and Carolina took possession on its own 20. There was no thought by Coach Ron Rivera to simply take a knee and prepare for overtime. That would prove a mistake as Cam Newton hit Kelvin Benjamin on a short pass, and Benjamin was stripped by Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters. That led to a Santos winning 37-yard field goal as time expired as Carolina’s two-game winning streak ended.
Newton threw for 261 yards with a touchdown but did have a poorly-thrown interception that was returned for a Chiefs touchdown. Newton also led the Panthers with 12 carries with 54 yards and a TD. There are probably three primary reasons the Panthers are nowhere near as good as last year. Newton isn’t playing at his MVP level, the running game has struggled (the offensive line has been a problem) and the defense hasn’t been close to its 2015 version most games. The last 3-6 team to make the playoffs under the current postseason format (1990) was the 2012 Redskins.
Carolina is 2-6-1 ATS this season and 2-3 ATS at home.
Saints vs. Panthers Prediction
These teams met Week 6 in New Orleans and the Saints won 41-38, handing the Panthers their fourth straight defeat at the time. Brees passed for 465 yards and four scores, and Will Lutz kicked the winning 52-yard field goal as time expired. Newton threw for 322 yards and two scores, also running for a TD and a 2-point conversion that tied the game at 38 late in the fourth quarter. But the Panthers left Brees too much time on the clock. Go with Panthers at home here as Brees is usually not as good away from his dome. But give the alternate line of 2.5 points at -152. Bet over the total as it has hit in the past four meetings.